Determined to contribute to significant reduction in the number of unemployed Nigerians, Dangote Group at the weekend announced that it was scaling up its investment in agriculture sector.
Agriculture, according to the group, is the only visible way of addressing the high unemployment rate in the country.
Dangote further assured Nigerians that its huge investments in the sector would lead to real growth and development of the country’s economy.
Fielding questions from journalists on the sideline of the just concluded second edition of the Agribusiness Summit in Abuja, the Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Project and Portfolio Development of the group, Mr. Devakumar VG Edwin, said the new investments are significant and timely given the current rate of unemployment in the country.
According to him, agriculture employs 37 percent of the population, adding that this is against the backdrop of 23 percent unemployment rate in the country.
Going forward, he said his company was upping its investment in rice, tomato paste, sugar and dairy products.
Edwin said presently, the pan-African conglomerate is constructing state-of-the-art storage silos, and as well carrying out parboiling, rice milling, polishing, sorting and parking units for a total capacity of one million tons of paddy. He said there is an ongoing “investment in 15,000 hectares of land to produce and process tomato paste of 150,000 tons per year. The current import is 0.5 million tons per year.”
Edwin said his conglomerate was equally investing in 40,000 hectares to produce sugar, just as he hinted about the ongoing construction of a three million tons fertilizer plant.
According to him, part of the company’s plans also included investment in dairy products and oil seeds.
With adequate arable land and availability of water, he expressed optimism that Nigeria has all it takes to grow the agriculture sector. Edwin said the time is rife to put the agriculture sector in the front burner, as Nigeria’s ever growing population is projected to hit 440 million by the year 2050.
Edwin also said it was in realisation of the need to feed Nigerians that the government came out with various agricultural enhancement initiatives which included the Anchor Borrower Scheme, Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, Presidential Economic Diversification Initiative, Youth Lab and Food Security council among others.
The Dangote group director said most of its agricultural investments, especially in rice, is based on the out-grower scheme.
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to support the agricultural drive of the Dangote Group which he said is in line with the government policy and the yearnings of the people.